Save time in the garden this summer

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As we enter into these glorious summer months, many of us are itching to get out and play in the water, hike some local trails or picnic at a park with family, but trying to maintain your landscape while having fun in the sun can feel overwhelming.

When your weeks are full, focusing on the essentials of a thriving landscape will lessen the chance of any future problems, while also allowing you to enjoy your backyard.

Watering your plants consistently will go a long way in maintaining the health of your plants. Most plants, shrubs and trees need some water during the hottest summer days. If you can, water early in the day to keep your plants from getting stressed by the heat.

As far as how much to water, a general rule of thumb is an inch of water each week. But that can vary a bit.

New plantings will need that weekly inch of water delivered over frequent waterings, as their roots are not fully developed, whereas more mature trees and shrubs can have one long drink of water each week.

To conserve water and make the best use of your time, make sure to water at ground level. Overhead sprinklers are great in a pinch, but some of that water will evaporate into the air instead of going to your plant’s roots. Mulching your garden and landscape beds will conserve water and it will also save you time by preventing evaporation and suppressing weed growth. Your soil staying moist longer and fewer weeds growing in your landscape means more play time for you and your family.

Your lawn is something that requires your attention throughout the year to help it thrive. To make the most use of your time in the summer, set your lawnmower blades to only cut at a length of 2 to 3 inches.

Keeping your lawn a little longer saves you time and keeps your grass healthy. It encourages good root development which in turn allows your lawn to better compete with weeds.

Another time saver is to let your lawn clippings stay on your grass when you mow. It will act as a mulch for your lawn, which as stated earlier, helps with water retention and weed suppression.

One last tip for the busy summer months is to take some time to walk your landscape and observe it. Not only will this get you out to enjoy your outdoor space, but it will allow you to get to know the plants, trees and shrubs under your care. Pay attention to any potential pest damage, watering issues or leaf discoloration. Noticing these things early and acting on them will save you time in the long run and help preserve your landscape.

Focusing on the essentials this summer of watering consistently and wisely, practicing efficient lawn care and observing your landscape will help your landscape thrive while you get some extra free time to enjoy a wonderful Pacific Northwest summer.

If you need further waterwise landscape information or have questions about a plant problem or pest seen in your landscape, the Master Gardener Answer Clinic can be reached by email at MGAnswerClinic@clark.wa.gov.  Sending a clear photo of the pest or plant problem with your inquiry is very helpful.

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Bekah Martin is a Master Gardener with WSU Extension Clark County.

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